My days are no more uncertain than the ones my mother or grandmothers lived. However, they feel more dangerous than any previous time in my life, because of so much anger and ignorance.  Therefore, the decision to turn off the news, and listen to biographers and great writers makes sense.


biographyWatching C-Span’s encore series on the First Ladies has been a welcomed respite from the tabloid cable news.  Just for the record, there were no “good old days,” when we all just got along.

The press coverage could be as malicious, fawning, or misleading as it is today.  Our former leaders and their political opponents were quite capable of saying and doing terrible things – even in a house as lovely and grand as our White House.

People get nostalgic about a lot of things I don’t think they were that crazy about the first time around. Beryl Pfizer*

The wonderful thing about the biographers on C-Span is they have uncovered bits of history and we have a whole new perspective on people we admired, or disliked.  I am old enough to have formed opinions on thirteen First Ladies; some these needed reforming!

History never looks like history when you are living through it. It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.”-John W. Gardner*


The wonderful thing about good literature is it makes sense of history, and current events!


Racism and immigration in America are current events with a long and convoluted history – the news is not doing much to help me understand either.

I am listening to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel anchored squarely in history.

It is as uncomfortable to hear as it was to read. I understand more clearly how it was the spark that ignited the Civil War.   And I can understand how the war’s aftermath echos today as we properly remove some  hurtful monuments.

Last week I listened to My Antonia – an equally stimulating novel; again anchored to an era of American history.  Willa Cather’s characters helped me understand better why so many immigrants come to our country, and how painful and hard such choices can be.

In these uncertain and dangerous day, I can’t change anything but me; good stories, real and imagined, help me change; help me stay sane . . . and paint!

What sanity savers are you building, dear reader?


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